§ 44. Mr. W. THORNE
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the number of accidents in the cement trade on the Thames and Medway is increasing; whether he is aware that a cause of these accidents is the fact that when unloading coal and coke from the barges the crane driver working the grab that picks up the coal cannot see the man who is engaged in trimming the coal ready for picking up; whether he is aware that this was the cause of two fatal accidents recently, one on 21st October, 1912, and the other on 14th February last; and whether it is within his power to direct that another man shall be employed to stand in sight of the crane driver and instruct him when it is safe to lower the grab?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The number of reported accidents in the cement works to which my hon. Friend refers has risen from 337 in 1911, to 382 in 1912, but there was a considerable increase in trade activity in 1912, involving the employment of a larger number of workmen as compared with the previous year. The number of accidents due to unloading coal or coke is a very small proportion of the total, namely, thirteen in 1911, and fifteen in 1912, while those caused by the descent of the grab were two slight accidents in 1911, one fatal accident in 1912, and one fatal accident in 1913. As regards the fatal accident in 1912, the evidence at the inquest showed that the accident was not due to the inability of the crane driver to see the trimmer; and with regard to the accident in February last, it is true that the crane driver could not see the trimmer, but there were no witnesses of the accident, and it is impossible to say for certain what was the cause. I have at present no power to require a signaller to be employed in cases where the crane man cannot see the trimmer, but such a requirement would tend to obviate danger, and the point shall be considered when an opportunity occurs.